Our resident pundit picks out his horses to follow on the Flat this summer.
CLIFFS OF MOHER isn’t a household name just yet, but there’s every chance come the end of the season, he will have become one of Aidan O’Brien’s flagship horses from the campaign. Making his debut in a fairly ordinary maiden at Cork in mid-October, the son of Galileo ran a promising enough race to finish fifth to subsequent Group 3-placed Spanish Tenor, but it didn’t necessarily point towards what was to come on his next and final start at Leopardstown as a two-year-old. Breaking much more alertly, he took it up after a furlong and then gradually working his way through the gears turning for home, he readily pulled clear of a 17-strong field in a style of a potentially high-class colt. Indeed, on closer inspection of the overall and sectional times he posted that day, he ended up recording much quicker fractions than 112-rated older horse Sovereign Debt over the same C&D, so it was clearly a performance of some repute. Furthermore, his well-beaten stable mate, Orderofthegarter, has subsequently come out this season and routed a field of maidens to the tune of 11 lengths, adding extra substance to the form. Not entered in the English Guineas as Churchill and Caravaggio are likely to fly the flag in the first classic of the season at Newmarket for Ballydoyle, it will be interesting to see what route ‘the lads’ have mapped out for this extremely exciting colt. Being out of a Derby winning sire, one would assume that middle-distances would come into the picture by mid-season, but given he’s by a sprinting mare on the distaff side and how much speed he showed at the Dublin venue, he could be just as effective over shorter. Either way, he remains one to keep on side during the summer months.
It’s not often maidens are won by 13 lengths but that’s exactly what HORSEPLAY achieved when scoring on her second start at Nottingham last season. Leaving her first run well and truly behind, Andrew Balding’s inmate pulled readily clear of a useful field at the Colwick Park track and heading into the winter as the stable’s big hope for Classic glory, she has the sort of profile similar to Casual Look, who took the Oaks for the Kingsclere handler back in 2003.
KIMBERELLA was always a smart sprinter when trained by Dandy Nichols but on the evidence of his opening display for new connections at Lingfield recently, there could well be more to come from the son of Kyllachy even at the age of seven. The way Richard Fahey’s inmate quickened up to dispose of a smart field at the Surrey venue marked him down as a sprinter to keep on side, and with most of his best form on the turf coming from strong-run races over 6f, there should be plenty of races to be won with him during the summer out of handicap company.
Deacon Blues, Society Rock and The Tin Man have all been expertly handled, top-class sprinters by James Fanshawe over the years and although MAZZINI isn’t in that same category just yet, there’s more than a fair chance he might make the grade before the season is out. Unlucky not to land a competitive Class 2 handicap at Ascot towards the backend, the son of Exceed and Excel rounded off his campaign in the best possible fashion with a smooth win at Kempton and being just the type who will progress even further the better opposition he tackles, he’s likely to work his way through the grades quite rapidly.
MAKING LIGHT progressed on every start for Dermot Weld last season, and rounding her campaign off with victory in the Group 3 Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown, she set herself up nicely for what should turn out to be a similarly productive campaign as a three-year-old. A tall, rangy filly with plenty of scope, the daughter of Tamayuz impressed with her attitude at the Dublin venue, and with her time figure that day suggesting she could be very smart if she continues to go the right way, she looks just the type who the Master Of Rosewell will excel with this season.
Awtaad put Kevin Prendergast back in the limelight last season with his pattern-race exploits and on the evidence of what we saw of ANEEN last campaign, the Frairstown handler has a fine chance of further classic glory with this filly. Promising on debut at Leopardstown, the daughter of Lawman found the anticipated improvement on her next and final start as a two-year-old, quickening right away from a 25-strong field in fast time. Based on the evidence of that performance and her pedigree, she looks for all the world as though she will be suited by further as a three-year-old and it would come as no surprise to see her in one of the early Classic trials in April.
BEN ROBINSON probably isn’t a name too familiar with most, but make no mistake, this lad has a bright future. Although he’s only had just over 100 rides, he’s racked up 14 wins and on many of those successes he’s impressed by his balance and power in the saddle in equal measures. Attached to the Brian Ellison yard, the fact that the canny Yorkshire handler is prepared to give the 20-year-old the responsibility of riding leading Lincoln fancy Top Notch Tonto tells you all you need to know about his capabilities and he should continue to be a valuable asset to not only that stable, but many other top barns who are seeking the assistance of a top-quality apprentice to claim off.£10 FREE + Deposit £100 & Play With £200!